Cheney Aide to Lead NTIA

The White House nominated an aide to Vice President Richard M. Cheney to lead the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the outfit in charge of the coupon program for digital converter boxes.

Neil Suryakant Patel, a Cheney policy assistant, is a former lawyer for UUNet Technologies, a major early Internet provider heavily involved with spam proliferation in the late 1990s.

FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin praised Patel as “a dedicated public servant whom I have known for the past seven years.”

The NTIA is also in charge of the Public Television Facilities Program and programs related to the digital transition of low-power television, as well as other technology policy areas

Some in Congress have been critical of a lack of coordination among federal agencies, particularly between the FCC and NTIA, as the coupon program gets underway and the full power analog shutoff of February 2009 approaches.

Patel graduated from Trinity College and Georgetown Law.

He replaces Meredith Attwell Baker, who served as acting administrator since the departure of John Kneuer Dec. 1 for Rivada Networks, a defense and security technology firm.